Sunday, July 30, 2006

They Made Us Do It

Israeli Vice Prime Minister Shimon Peres knows who is responsible for the deaths of many children, women, and elderly in the town of Qana in southern Lebanon. Hizbullah is the party that killed all of those people.
When asked who was responsible for the civilian deaths in Qana, Peres -- a former Israeli prime minister -- said, "Totally, totally it's (Hizbollah's) fault."

This line of reasoning is astonishing to say the least.

Imagine an armed bank robber who flees the scene of the crime only to be followed by the authorities. The thief breaks into a house and closes the door behind him. The police follow in and after rushing through the door, they see a figure duck into a dark room; they open fire. The victims are a mother and child who were running away from where the criminal had just escaped via the back door.

The police chief comes out and excuses the officers of wrong doing since it was the bank robber's fault that those two innocents were killed. This type of argument would not stand, as the officers have a responsibilty to aprehend the criminal while not harming the rest of the law-abiding public. They are first to identify the subject before using lethal force.

Certainly the authorities would not have been in the house with guns drawn had the criminal in this scenario not created the condition first, but his actions do not absolve the authorities of their duty to the public. "Shoot first and ask questions later," is meant to highlight the dubious ethical and moral nature of such an action - there is no second chance to revoke the decision.

Retuning to the Qana incident, Isreal conducted a severe bombing campaign on the village and in pursuing Hizbullah forces, the Israeli Defense Forces destroyed a building which was being used as a makeshift bomb shelter by residents. By dropping bombs on a village Israel was accepting a risk of civilian casualties in a cavalier manner. When such an event happens, they are no longer responsible for their actions since Hizbullah has tied their hands.

If this is the rationale, then no one in Lebanon is safe. Israel will have a free hand to take intelligence of where they sense Hizbullah is operating from and launch an assault on a populated area without regard to repercussions. If the people of Lebanon do not like this policy, then they can make Hizbullah stop. How they would make them stop is not explained by Peres since it seems readily apparent that a much-vaunted military such as the IDF cannot stop Hizbullah very well either.

It is inexcusable for Israeli officials to switch the onus onto those they fight for their missteps and poor execution of battle operations. Hizbullah has its myriad faults in their attacks against towns in Israel, yet this should give Israel less room, not more, in excusing wanton destruction and loss of civilian life.

No comments: